Monthly Archives: July 2008

Without Provocation

I was a juror in a case where a man was accused of attacking a cop who had pulled him over for a traffic violation. We convicted him because his story wasn’t believable for a number of reasons, one of which was his claim that the cop attacked him out of the blue without provocation. That just seemed unlikely.

I wonder how we would have felt if we’d seen this video before the trial:

The officer claims he was arresting the cyclist for disorderly conduct in blocking traffic, which might be true, but he also claims the cyclist deliberately drove into him and knocked them both to the ground, so I don’t think he’s believable.

(On the other hand, if I was stuck behind such an annoying buch of cyclists, I’d probably be cheering on the cop to kick his ass.)

Ugly Details Alleged in the Lima Drug Raid

Speaking of drug raids, a while back I posted about a raid in which the Lima, Ohio SWAT team killed Tarika Wilson.

For that post, I was taken to task twice (here and here) by people who called me ignorant of police tactics. I’m sure they’re right, but that just doesn’t matter, because you don’t have to be an expert on police tactics to know that something is wrong when cops shoot and kill an unarmed woman while she’s holding her infant son, who is also wounded.

As I made clear,

my anger isn’t directed at the individual member of the Lima SWAT team who pulled the trigger. Something definitely went wrong that day in Wilson’s house, but I have no idea what, and it may not have been his fault.

It turns out that some important people disagree with me, specifically the prosecutor for Lima, Ohio. The shooter, Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, has been charged with negligent homicide and is currently on trial.

The prosecutor’s witnesses have testified to some ugly details:

A woman shot and killed by a police officer during a drug raid was likely on her knees and complying with a SWAT team’s orders to get down when she was hit in the neck and chest, two experts testified Wednesday at the officer’s trial.

And yes, they also shot the dog.

They Always Shoot the Dogs

Yet another pointless drug raid:

“My government blew through my doors and killed my dogs,” Calvo said. “They thought we were drug dealers, and we were treated as such. I don’t think they really ever considered that we weren’t.”

This time the victim is the Mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, so this is getting a little attention outside the libertarian blogosphere.

His two dogs were labrador retrievers, not the most threatening dogs in the world, and he claims one of them was shot as it ran away. It’s not the first time SWAT teams have been accused of shooting the family dogs for sport.

Local news video here.

(Hat tip: Pete and Radley)

Why People Hate Cops

I’m something of a libertarian, and libertarianism is about fighting big government. Usually when push comes to shove, it’s law enforcement officers who are the point of the government’s spear. So it would be easy to hate cops.

I try not to, though. Most of the cops I know seem like pretty decent folks doing a job that I couldn’t do. They don’t invent the rules, they just have the crappy job of enforcing them. So I try not to hate cops.

But sometimes, they don’t make it easy for me. For example, I think I hate these cops:

Last December, I posted about a botched SWAT raid on an innocent Minnesota family. Acting on bad information from an informant, the police threw flash grenades though the family’s windows, then exchanged gunfire with Vang Khang, who mistook the police for criminal intruders. Seven months later, no one in the police department has been held accountable for the mistakes leading up to the raid.

However, this week Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan and Mayor R.T. Rybak did give the raiding officers medals and commendations for their bravery in nearly killing Vang Khang, his wife, and their six children.

Radley Balko has the whole story.

Update: I’ve read a few more stories about this, and I may have to back down. It sounds like the SWAT team was acting on bad information from the Violent Offenders Task Force. They wouldn’t have had reason to question the Task Force’s determination that a raid was justified. The officers that were shot do not appear to have been at fault. In that case, they deserve their medals.

To the department’s credit, at least they aren’t trying to put the homeowner in jail for shooting at them, or planting drugs on him as certain other departments might have done. These days, that makes them honorable professionals.

The Trouble With Mortgage Bailouts

Moby Kip posts about the many, many problems with the home mortgage bailout bill, which seems to be designed to lure still more financially marginal families into home ownership.

And for some reason it even includes a tax handout to a giant company that has nothing to do with the real estate business.

McCain To Lose

I know nothing about election politics, but I’ve decided to make a prediction for the Prognistication file anyway.

I’m noticing that a lot of conservative coverage of Obama’s campaign is pointing out that he’s just another politician, he’s not divine, he has ties to Chicago politicians, or that some of his actions are politically motivated (in an election year, no less).

When you’re stuck arguing that your opponent is not a deity, you’re going to lose.